“Emily, what are you still doing here? The sixth grade hall was dismissed five minutes ago. Did you leave something in my room?”
Emily looked like a frightened fawn. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened to say something, but nothing came out.
On the last day of school, students are dismissed in a very regimented fashion. Kids tend to do silly things that they normally wouldn’t do, as they walk out of school on the last day. No one wants to deal with a student in detention the day after school is let out, so we clear the building one hall at a time.
It was easy for me to play drill sergeant the last day because the past few weeks of school had left a sour taste in my mouth. Many teachers can describe how they lay awake stewing over something one or two of their students did or an email one parent sent them. It’s called “critic’s math.” Nine people can love you, but the one person who is unhappy is all you think about. Nine compliments plus one criticism equals one criticism.
My assigned hall was clear and I was walking out to the front door when I ran into Emily.
“Emily, what do you need?”
“I . . . I just wanted to tell you thank you for everything you did for me this year before I left.”
I stood there stunned. My eyes began to fill up.
“Emily, that is so sweet." I gathered her into a big hug. "Thank you.” When I let go, I saw that Emily was now beaming.
“It’s been wonderful working with you. You have a good summer, and I’ll see you next year . . . unless I see you in the mall,” I said.
Emily turned and walked five feet, turned around again and shyly waved, then disappeared around the corner.
Maybe one in ten can spoil a few weeks for you, but another one in ten can put the sparkle right back into things.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11